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This Is Us is taking viewers to Vietnam with a season 3 story line that delves into Jack’s military service during the Vietnam War. Now it also looks like the show itself will be headed there, too.
NBC’s hit family drama is indeed planning to film scenes in the Southeast Asian country, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman tells EW. “We’re taking it very seriously,” he says. “We’re going to Vietnam to shoot there.” In the season 2 finale, Jack’s son Kevin (Justin Hartley) was last seen jetting off to Vietnam with his new girlfriend Zoe (Melanie Liburd), hoping to learn more about his father’s past. Along his mission to glean info on his dead dad, the story will include flashbacks to young Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) in the Vietnam War, presumably with Jack’s late little brother, Nicky (the just-cast Michael Angarano), who presumably perished in the Vietnam War.
Fogelman says that the first part of this season will feature a “special” episode that drills down on Jack in Vietnam, in the spirit of the show’s standalone showcase episodes. (Think season 1’s Jack-Rebecca-Dr. K showcase “The Big Day” or another season 1 standout, “Memphis” — parts of which were shot in Memphis — or even last season’s Deja-centric “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life.”) This installment “tracks Jack’s story to Vietnam and tracks his history in his family as it relates to war and being a part of the military.” The Vietnam plot will continue to play out over the season, becoming “one of our storylines that in progressive episodes continues to evolve for a bit, until some answers are gotten and the story is told,” he explains. (Logistics are still being worked out as to what might be filmed in Vietnam, though one would assume that it will likely involve Hartley and Ventimiglia, if not also Liburd and Angarano.)
This Is Us is clearly committed to this Vietnam story, as Fogelman also has tapped acclaimed author and Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried) as a consultant for the show. “Tim came on to consult for us and to help us, and in his own has fallen in love with the show and is taking it very seriously,” says the creator. “We wanted to do the story right by Tim and vets and other people that have experienced Vietnam. We’re taking it very seriously—in the same manner that we take seriously stories that involve weight, or anxiety, or miscarriages, or adoption.”
Ventimiglia was thrilled — and thrown for a loop — by the revelations in the story of Jack and Nicky, and “it’s going to be something that people really aren’t expecting,” he tells EW. “There is a lot of emotion in store for Jack Pearson, especially around war time, especially around his brother, and the circumstances that follow him home from war.” He sums up Kevin’s Vietnam voyage as this: “Kevin is on a journey of discovery. It’s a journey of discovery for both Pearson men.”
Hartley seconds Ventimiglia’s sentiments on the surprises that await Kevin (and the audience), as he told EW this summer, “It’s a healing thing for him — so he’s going to get a lot of information, some stuff that he didn’t know and didn’t expect. And it’s going to jar a few things.”
This Is Us returns to NBC for season 3 on Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. To see footage from the season premiere, grab your Kleenex box and head over here. To check out 16 new photos of the premiere, click here.